Bernstein Crisis Management. Crisis response, prevention, planning, and training.

Crisis Manager Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management

© 2004 Jonathan Bernstein
Circulation: 4,000+
Estimated Readership: 14,000+


We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

      Albert Einstein


Editor's Warning: You are entering the humor zone. Joan Stewart must have said "Hot Dog!" when she heard about this story from her friend, Barry Levenson. I, too, relished this true anecdote when I read it in Joan's ezine and rushed to request permission to serve it up as a condiment fit to accompany more serious material.

Damage Control, Mustard Style
From "The Publicity Hound," by Joan Stewart

What do you do when you've been hammered by the almighty Reader's Digest?

That's what happened to the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum ( in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin when an article in the December issue placed the Mustard Museum on its list of "5 Museums Not to Plan Christmas Around."

"Want a fun vacation?" the article asked. "Maybe you should skip these 'educational' destinations."

Barry Levenson, curator and CMO (Chief Mustard Officer), says that as far as he knows, no one from Reader's Digest visited his museum or any of the other places on their hit list, including the Macaulay Museum of Dental History or the National Museum of Funeral History.

"It was a cheap shot because the Mustard Museum might sound dull to the uninformed," Barry said. "But it is also the home of America's Mustard College, POUPON U, and there's nothing boring about POUPON U."

So what did he do?

"We took 'em on! We sent a press release making fun of Reader's Digest and that got us some terrific publicity, including a story on a Madison TV station and other media websites. We sent out an email newsletter to our base of 15,000 mustard lovers. Many of our friends are bombarding Reader's Digest with scathing letters. Some have cancelled their subscriptions."

If you've been slammed, don't hide from it, Barry says.

"We've heard from hundreds of people who can't believe what Reader's Digest wrote about us," he said. "We could have ignored the piece but it has worked to our advantage, rousing the troops in support of the Mustard Museum."

As for those who are willing to take Reader's Digest at face value, Barry says: "POUPON THEM!"

Read all of Joan Stewart's delightful "Publicity Hound" newsletters by subscribing, free, at

Editor's Note: For this final issue of 2004, I invited my guest authors from this past year to join me in offering you some pithy and educational original thoughts regarding any aspect of crisis management. Pass them on to appropriate decision makers!

Words Of Wisdom author according to last name

"Your credibility rests on your ability to answer tough, legitimate questions. Key messages are not enough."

Rick Amme
President, Amme & Associates, Inc.

"If communication is not your top priority, all of your other priorities are at risk."

Bob Aronson
Principal, The Aronson Partnership

"The opposite of crisis preparedness is organizational death wish."

Jonathan Bernstein
President, Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc.

"You can apologize all you want, but when the dirt hits the fan, so to speak, people want to believe that you will do the right thing by others to correct the problem."

Karen Friedman
Karen Friedman Enterprises, Inc.

"The three virtues of an effective crisis communicator are responsiveness, accuracy, and honesty. When folks fade away from these qualities, they're setting up both their clients and themselves for a huge fall -- one much greater than if they had done the 'right thing' in the first place. Nobody -- not even reporters -- can anticipate a company to be perfect and crisis-free, but they do have every right and reason to expect the highest level of responsiveness, accuracy, and honesty."

Tyson Heyn, APR
Principal, LACP

"Bad news is like dead doesn't get better with time."

Judy Hoffman
Principal, JCH Enterprises

"The second greatest threat to corporate defendants are plaintiff's lawyers who understand the media. The greatest threat are defense lawyers who don't."

Richard Levick, Esq.
President & CEO of Levick Strategic Communications

"'The best ad lib is the one you wrote the night before.' It's a vaudeville expression and a great way to remind people of the simple message: 'Be Prepared!'"

Cary Pfeffer
Founder: ClearComm Consulting

"Business Continuity (Disaster Recovery) Planners are 'Professional Pessimists'. When discussing and preparing for survival, it's never a matter of if, but when, disaster will strike. The only possible defense is a sound set of Business Continuity Plans that will reduce foreseeable risks, and deal with the aftermath of an event.

David A. Shimberg, CBCP
Chairman, Contingency Planning Association of the Carolinas

Editor's Postscript: I hope that all of you have a joyous holiday celebration, and that 2005 brings you much serenity and prosperity. As has been my practice in years past, I will not be publishing an issue of "Crisis Manager" on January 1, just might get an announcement before the January 15 issue about a new (free) service to be offered by me and my friend and frequent guest author, Bob Aronson. More will be revealed!


Holiday Gifts? 25% Off All Crisis Management Training Materials

All of the materials at The Crisis Manager Bookstore,, including Keeping the Wolves at Bay: A Media Training Manual, are available to readers as professional or personal gifts for 25% off regular pricing. Offer good through December 25, 2004. Click on "Enter Coupon/Promotional Code" on the "Review" page of the order system and use coupon code: holiday04

And In Case You Didn't Know This...

Some of you know me more as a writer and editor than as a consultant. If you'd like to see the full range of crisis management services available from Bernstein Crisis Management, please go to our Services page.


Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. has formal or informal co-promotional and mutually beneficial business associations with a number of the services we mention periodically in this newsletter. No, we can't go into details because that's confidential, proprietary, etc. But our relationship is NOT "arm's distance" and you should know that, since we regularly write about these services as we use them for crisis and issues management or other purposes. That said, you should also know that Bernstein Crisis Management sought the relationships because its staff is convinced that these services are the best of their kind for Bernstein Crisis Management's needs and those of its clients. If you have any questions about these relationships, please contact Jonathan Bernstein, (626) 825-3838.


Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc.,, a national crisis management public relations agency providing 24/7 access to crisis response professionals. The agency engages in the full spectrum of crisis management services: crisis prevention, response, planning & training. He has been in the public relations field since 1982, following five-year stints in both military intelligence and investigative reporting. Write to

Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. is located at 1013 Orange Avenue, Monrovia, CA 91016. Telephone: (626) 825-3838.


GUEST AUTHORS are very welcome to submit material for "Crisis Manager." There is no fee paid, but most guest authors have reported receiving business inquiries as a result of appearing in this publication. Case histories, experience-based lessons, commentary on current news events and editorial opinion are all eligible for consideration. Submission is not a guarantee of acceptance.


When I find a site that I think will be useful to my readers or site visitors, I put it on our Links page. If you have a site that would be of specific use to crisis managers and want to discuss a link exchange or other cooperative effort, please write to me,


All information contained herein is obtained by Jonathan Bernstein from sources believed by Jonathan Bernstein to be accurate and reliable.

Because of the possibility of human and mechanical error as well as other factors, neither Jonathan Bernstein nor Bernstein Crisis Management is responsible for any errors or omissions. All information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Bernstein Crisis Management and Jonathan Bernstein make no representations and disclaim all express, implied, and statutory warranties of any kind to the user and/or any third party including, without limitation, warranties as to accuracy, timeliness, completeness, merchantability, or fitness for any particular purpose.

Unless due to willful tortuous misconduct or gross negligence, Jonathan Bernstein and Bernstein Crisis Management shall have no liability in tort, contract, or otherwise (and as permitted by law, product liability), to the user and/or any third party.

Under no circumstance shall Bernstein Crisis Management or Jonathan Bernstein be liable to the user and/or any third party for any lost profits or lost opportunity, indirect, special, consequential, incidental, or punitive damages whatsoever, even if Bernstein Crisis Management or Jonathan Bernstein has been advised of the possibility of such damages.

A service of this newsletter is to provide news summaries and/or snippets to readers. In such instances articles and/or snippets will be reprinted as they are received from the originating party or as they are displayed on the originating website or in the original article. As we do not write the news, we merely point readers to it, under no circumstance shall Bernstein Crisis Management or Jonathan Bernstein be liable to the user and/or any third party for any lost profits or lost opportunity, indirect, special, consequential, incidental, or punitive damages whatsoever due to the distribution of said news articles or snippets that lead readers to a full article on a news service's website, even if Bernstein Crisis Management or Jonathan Bernstein has been advised of the possibility of such damages. Authors of the original news story and their publications shall be exclusively held liable. Any corrections to news stories are not mandatory and shall be printed at the discretion of the list moderator after evaluation on a case-by-case basis.


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Articles in "Crisis Manager" were, unless otherwise noted, written and copyrighted by Jonathan Bernstein. Permission to reprint will often be granted for no charge. Write to